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About this poet

Born March 28, 1976, Ada Limón is originially from Sonoma, California. As a child, she was greatly influenced by the visual arts and artists, including her mother, Stacia Brady. In 2001 she received an MFA from the Creative Writing Program at New York University.

Her first collection of poetry, Lucky Wreck (Autumn House Press, 2006), was the winner of the 2005 Autumn House Poetry Prize. She is also the author of Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions, 2015), Sharks in the Rivers (Milkweed Editions, 2010), and This Big Fake World (Pearl Editions, 2006), winner of the 2005 Pearl Poetry Prize. Of Limón's work, the poet Richard Blanco writes, "Both soft and tender, enormous and resounding, her poetic gestures entrance and transfix."

A 2001-2002 fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, she has also received a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts and won the Chicago Literary Award for Poetry. She splits her time between Lexington, Kentucky, and Sonoma, California.


Bibliography

Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions2015)
Sharks in the Rivers (Milkweed Editions, 2010)
This Big Fake World (Pearl Editions, 2006)
Lucky Wreck (Autumn House Press, 2006)

American Pharoah

Despite the morning’s gray static of rain,
we drive to Churchill Downs at 6 a.m.,
eyes still swollen shut with sleep. I say,
Remember when I used to think everything
was getting better and better? Now, I think
it’s just getting worse and worse. I know it’s not
what I’m supposed to say as we machine our
way through the silent seventy minutes on 64
over pavement still fractured from the winter’s
wreckage. I’m tired. I’ve had vertigo for five
months and on my first day home, he’s shaken
me awake to see this horse, not even race, but
work. He gives me his jacket as we face
the deluge from car to the twin spire turnstiles,
and once deep in the fern-green grandstands, I see
the crowd. A few hundred maybe, black umbrellas,
cameras, and notepads, wet-winged eager early birds
come to see this Kentucky-bred bay colt with his
chewed-off tail train to end the almost 40-year
American Triple Crown drought. A man next to us,
some horseracing heavy, ticks off a list of reasons
why this horse—his speed-laden pedigree, muscle
and bone recovery, et cetera, et cetera—could never
win the grueling mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes.
Then, the horse with his misspelled name comes out,
first just casually cantering with his lead horse,
and next, a brief break in the storm, and he’s racing
against no one but himself and the official clocker,
monstrously fast and head down so we can see
that faded star flash on his forehead like this
is real gladness. As the horse eases up and we
close our mouths to swallow, the heavy next to us
folds his arms, says what I want to say too: I take it all back.

Copyright © 2015 Ada Limón. Originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Prairie Schooner. Used with permission of Prairie Schooner

Copyright © 2015 Ada Limón. Originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Prairie Schooner. Used with permission of Prairie Schooner

Ada Limón

Ada Limón

Born in 1976, Ada Limón received the 2005 Autumn House Poetry Prize for her debut collection, Lucky Wreck (Autimn House Press, 2006).

by this poet

poem

Say tomorrow doesn't come.
Say the moon becomes an icy pit.
Say the sweet-gum tree is petrified.
Say the sun's a foul black tire fire.
Say the owl's eyes are pinpricks.
Say the raccoon's a hot tar stain.
Say the shirt's plastic ditch-litter.
Say the kitchen's a cow's corpse.

poem

—For Mammoth Cave National Park

Humongous cavern, tell me, wet limestone, sandstone caprock,
      bat-wing, sightless translucent cave shrimp,

this endless plummet into more of the unknown,
                            how one keeps secrets for so long.

All my life, I’ve lived

2
poem
We'll say unbelievable things 
to each other in the early morning— 
  
our blue coming up from our roots, 
our water rising in our extraordinary limbs. 
  
All night I dreamt of bonfires and burn piles 
and ghosts of men, and spirits 
behind those birds of flame. 
  
I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or